Sunday, January 23, 2011

My First Tattoo

Sometimes a project just takes you over, consumes you, forces you to follow its path. That’s what’s happening to me now.

In a mad rush of spinning at the end of 2010, I finished over 2 pounds of yarn for a yet unspecified knitting project. I blogged about that spinning frenzy on Dec 31.
The yarn was spun from two sheep named Lucy and Lacy.

A few days later, an idea for a cardigan came to me: a loose fitting, boxy cardi with embellishments. Here is my very rough drawing of my first thoughts of that idea. As I drew, the embellishments started to look like tattoos to me. So, the sweater will be titled, “Tattoo”. Just a note: I can’t draw.

On the back, I want to put a short central cable pattern at waist level, and then put some dulplicate stitch embellishments – also centrally located – above that. On the front, I want to have a knit-purl stitch pattern in a triangular space with the point at wasit level. The front and back will be knitted from Lucy (grey). The sleeves will be knitted from Lacy (dark grey) and a marl yarn of Lucy Plus Lacy. I want a large collar, and a stiff, short, 3-dimensional stitch pattern for the hem and cuffs (and perhaps also on the outside edge of the collar).

I swatched for several days, first to make sure I had enough yarn, then to make decisions about the hem stitch, the cable, and the knit-purl stitch on the front. For the hem, I finally decided on a stitch pattern that I found in an old vintage knitting magazine that was missing its cover (so I don’t know what magazine, or when it was published; my guess is that the magazine was published in the 1940s). The stitch is called, “Cayce”. Very simple, but with a nice, dense structure:

Here’s “Cayce”:

Multiples of 2 sts.
Row 1 – K1, *yo, sl1 (as if to P), K1, repeat from * across row, ending K1.
Row 2 – (RS) K2, *K the yo and the slip st tog through back of sts, K1, repeat from * across row.
Repeat these 2 rows for pattern.

I also swatched a number of cable patterns (for center back). I decided to modify a cable pattern I found in The Harmony Guide to Practical Knitting Stitches (1983): Pattern VI.1, page 63.

On Thursday, I started knitting the back. After about 7 inches, I decided to change the depth of the hem and the width of the knitted piece. So, I ripped out the knitting and started over. I got up to the neck edge last night.

I would have gotten farther, but after changing the width of the sweater, I realized I needed to spin some more yarn. So I spun 2 more skeins (about 8 ounces) of Lucy. They’re drying now.

Here’s a picture of the back (Lucy), and some of the Lacy yarn, the Lucy Plus Lacy marl, and a pinch of a Lacy plus kid mohair locks that I may use for one of the embellishments.

Friday, January 21, 2011

I've Got an Inkle-ing

About two years ago, I bought an inkle loom. A Schacht inkle loom. Before that purchase I would say, “I’m not a weaver…yet.” Now, I guess I’m a weaver. I got some wonderful basic instruction from my friend Marty F. And I purchased and perused two books on Inkle weaving: Inkle Weaving, by Helene Bress; and Inkle, by Evelyn Neher.

Thus instructed, I set out to make some inkle bands. My goal was – and still is – to make a series of dog leashes from my inkle bands.

I enthusiastically wove some bands, then, as can happen, I let my inkle loom languish as I turned my attention to other fiber endeavors.

Last Sunday, however, I couldn’t stand looking at the partially finished band on the loom any longer! I finished the band, and I warped the loom for another band – which I actually finished the following day!

Here’s a picture of some of the inkle bands I’ve woven.

I hereby resolve to try to weave one band a week. (I wonder how long that will last…..)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Warm Up!

I do love winter. I love snow. I love to bundle up and go for a good long walk when it’s 20degF outside. Invigorating!

I may like cold weather, but I don’t like to be cold. So, any opportunity to warm up during winter is a golden opportunity.

One such golden opportunity is fast approaching. In early February, I will be headed to Mishicot, Wisconsin to teach some workshops at the fiber thing’s Winter Weekend Warm-Up
. I get to teach “Plying for Texture”, “Plying Balanced Yarns”, and “Variations on Long Draw”.

Other instructors include Carol Rhoades, Sandy Bulgrin, Stefania Isaacson, Liz Sutter, Julie Sonnenberg, and Carol Brodtke.

And workshop topics include basketry, spinning, knitting, kumihimo, dyeing, and soap making.

I can hardly wait! Not only do I get to attend and teach, but I also get to drive around Lake Michigan, through the Upper Peninsula in February! Woo Hoo! I am very happy that my car has all-wheel drive and excellent snow tires.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I Heart Boot Socks

Many years ago I had a roommate who knitted socks all the time. Well, nearly all the time. CiCi was a prolific sock producer. She knitted boot socks – nice, warm, thick, wool socks. I really didn’t think much of it until she knitted a pair for me. They were deep red, with pink toes. I fell in love with those socks. And I insisted that she teach me how to knit them. Then I fell in love with knitting.

CiCi changed my life. She became one of my dearest friends. She passed away in 2004 (cancer), the same year that I left my job in academia to turn my attention full-time to fiber. I miss her so.

But CiCi is in each stitch of every pair of boot socks that I knit. And I knit a lot of boot socks. And I must say that I have very comfortable feet during northern Michigan’s winters.

I’m going to be teaching a class on knitting boot socks at Interquilten. The class is in three sessions, starting January 13. You can find more information on the Interquilten website. I look forward to passing on some of CiCi’s sock passion, and I look forward to helping make more feet warm!

Here’s a picture of some of my boot socks (only the clean ones; I left out the ones in the laundry hamper).